Whether you’re working on a book or your next blog post, writing is a practice. It’s not about being good or bad–it’s about constantly seeking ways to improve, no matter where you are with your skills. Every time you write, it gets a little easier. But at the same time, diligent writers collect skills and tricks they can use to make their writing stronger and more compelling.
Here are five of the simplest and most powerful writing tips you can add to your collection.
1. Make it Reader Friendly
Writing is about making a connection, and you have to communicate with your readers. That means positioning your message in a way that is most meaningful and compelling to your readers–not to you or your friend or anyone else. How do your readers need to hear what you have to say? What’s going to strike their favorite chords? Even if you are not the world’s greatest writer, making your writing reader friendly will greatly improve the effectiveness and readability of your work.
2. Use Active Verbs
One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing is using the passive voice, or passive verbs. This complicates their sentences and makes them hard to understand, which is definitely not reader friendly. Look for ways to rewrite sentences that use passive to-be verbs, like “is,” “was,” and “were.” They can’t always be reworked, but oftentimes they should be. Active verbs will make your writing more engaging and clear.
3. Be Concise
Saying what you mean in as few words as possible is another key to improving your writing. After you get your message down, go through your writing and take out every unnecessary word. Kill your darlings, in other words. If a word, sentence, or phrase does not serve to illustrate your point, take it out or replace it with words that work.
4. Write Toward Your Goal
If you want your writing to have meaning, you need to have a clear goal or message for what you write. Always decide exactly what you want to accomplish with your writing and make sure every word helps reach this goal. Be direct; tell your readers what you want them to do. If readers have to guess, they will either stop reading or miss your point.
5. Break Up Big Projects
If you have a particularly large writing project, break it up into smaller segments. For example, don’t sit down and say to yourself, “I’m going to work on a chapter of my book on management.” Instead, be more specific and tell yourself, “I’m going to write an introduction to chapter three.” Working on a smaller scale will keep you motivated, prevent you from getting lost, and give you a sense of accomplishment every time you finish a part of the project. And it will prevent you from feeling discouraged because the entire project is not complete yet.
Improve Your Writing Today
No writer ever gets to the point where they can stop improving their craft. And even if you think you’re a good writer, you should always look for new tools to add to your writing tool box. Successful writing depends on many factors, including organization, simplicity, and conciseness. If you follow these five tips, your writing will improve and your message will be clear in whatever you write, every time you write